US universities adopting 802.11n

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US universities adopting 802.11n

Wi-Fi is expected to be available in 99 per cent of North American universities by 2013, according to research released by industry analyst ABI Research this week.

Much of that penetration will be in the form of 802.11n equipment: higher education is clearly the number one market for early adopters of 802.11n, the company said.

"ABI Research expects 802.11n uptake – which is today fairly small in the education market – to ramp up steeply to quite a high rate of penetration," said ABI Research vice president Stan Schatt.

There are several reasons for this. ABI said many students now assume a campus Wi-Fi network as a given, and many of their shiny new laptops will be 'n'-compatible.

Universities also have great bandwidth demands, as lecture halls may need to serve a large number of users with multimedia contention at any given time and 802.11n's greater speed and capacity can address that need.

Moreover, said Schatt, "Universities are breaking new ground by using video over Wi-Fi in a number innovative ways. This is driving the adoption of high speed 802.11n. Students in the near future (at least the diligent ones) will be just as likely to watch their favourite professor's lectures on their laptops as they will be to view 'America's Next Top Model'."

In an interesting twist, educational institutions with limited funds are jumping to 802.11n to 'future-proof' their networks, rather than purchasing an 802.11g Wi-Fi network now and coming back in a year or two seeking funds for an upgrade to 802.11n.

However, ABI believes a few barriers to adoption still exist. Some institutions are concerned about the impact of 802.11n's increased bandwidth on the wired side of their infrastructure.

Some have limited budgets, and some – particularly those with less emphasis on research – may be conservatively inclined to wait for confirmation of the 802.11n standard before taking the plunge.

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